We love the play of savory-sweet flavors and big textures in this hearty winter salad from Rocky Maselli of A16 Rockridge in Oakland--and also his foolproof technique for cooking farro.
Wine Pairing: A California Chardonnay that balances butteriness with brightness, like Rodney Strong 2013 Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay (Sonoma County; $22). Winter squash is a natural partner for the apple and pear flavors in Chard; the wine's texture matches the chewy farro. --S.S.
1 1/2 cups farro*, rinsed well and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 small whole onion, peeled
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ras el hanout*
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small kabocha squash (2 to 2 1/2 lbs.), halved lengthwise, seeded and scraped clean but unpeeled, and sliced lengthwise into 1-in.-wide wedges
DRESSING AND GREENS
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
About 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
About 1/4 tsp. pepper
2 qts. loosely packed baby mustard greens or torn regular mustard greens with stems and ribs removed
1/4 pound ricotta salata* or feta cheese, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler
How to Make It
Cook farro: In a medium saucepan, bring farro, 1 qt. water, the salt, onion, and bay leaf to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until farro is tender but still chewy, 18 to 25 minutes. Drain farro, discarding bay leaf and onion, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Roast squash: On a large rimmed baking sheet, combine oil, ras el hanout, and salt. Turn squash in mixture to coat evenly, then arrange flat. Bake, turning once, until tender when pierced, 25 to 35 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
Prepare dressing and greens: In a large bowl, whisk vinegar and honey to combine. Slowly add oil while whisking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour one-third of dressing into a second large bowl and set aside. Add farro and mustard greens to first bowl and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, then arrange on a large platter. Cut squash pieces in half crosswise (don't peel the tasty edible skin) and gently toss with reserved dressing.
Arrange squash over greens. Scatter cheese on top and gently toss ingredients to mix loosely.
*Find farro at well-stocked grocery stores and natural-foods stores and at bobsredmill.com. Find ras el hanout, a traditional Moroccan blend of 20 or so spices, at well-stocked grocery stores, or substitute equal parts cinnamon, ground allspice, and nutmeg to make 1 tsp. Find ricotta salata, a salty, aged ricotta, at well-stocked grocery stores.
We like farro and we like kabocha squash, so this recipe sounded good. But it wasn't. There were technical problems: even doubled, the sauce was insufficient; and keeping the rind on the squash is not a good idea. It was not tasty. (We started with a fresh, organic kabocha btw.) But more fundamentally, these flavors just don't come together. Raw mustard greens are a task to eat, and nothing about combining these three main ingredients worked. On the whole, eating it was an unpleasant experience. In our opinion; obviously some other people have different views.
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